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132 responses to “Indian students, structural racism and service industry work”

  1. Steve at the Pub

    Another “the employer is responsible for running the life of the employee” article.

    There is always the option of people just, you know, not working anywhere that is safe. This would force the employer to either make the environment safe, or not operate.
    It is not as if the jobs in question are long term posts, ones that people hold for a significant part of their career.

    A touch of bigotry also, stating all parts of the service industry are “not that fabulous” to work in. Poppycock!

  2. Steve at the Pub

    “unsafe”. Preview is my friend.

  3. Mark

    It is not as if the jobs in question are long term posts, ones that people hold for a significant part of their career.

    That makes it ok, then, for employers to be indifferent to possible harm that employees might face?

    Oh, and re your free market utopia, you might like to consider what I said about dodgy requirements for ‘work experience’ as part of VET courses, the restrictions on visas, everything that encourages, if not forces, international students in to one industry where working conditions are far less than optimal, even if the pay rates are actually legal (which is by no means always the case).

  4. patrickg

    Ahhhh, Steve’s marvellous world, where no one is desperate for money, unskilled, or unable (language, availability, ignorance etc) to get a safe job. What a beautiful place you live in, Steve. And you have the temerity to accuse of the left of naivety.

    Crazily enough, I actually believe in something called “Duty of Care”, and – expanding on that – that *every* job and its requirements should have a minimum level of safety.

    Head down to a building site, your opinions will play very well there, I predict.

  5. glen

    You may want to post a link to my guest post from a way back on student labour:

    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2008/12/03/guest-post-by-glen-fuller-gittens-on-student-incomes/

    The racialisation of the casualised workforce is a different point, however, relating to the exploitability of overseas students.

    Trying to mobilise the service industry workers into a proper union is a bit of a problem for a number of reasons. Didn’t work when I was in my early 20s and spoke to a few other workers in the service station industry I worked in for 4 years as an undergraduate. They simply weren’t interested. Maybe things have changed?

    Student workers are used as the surplus labour to control long time workers, satp, therefore it is in the long time workers best interests to join with the casual workers to improve conditions for everyone.

  6. Mark

    Not to mention, patrickg, the even bigger than normal disparity in power between employees and employers in this sector – ie international students often being paid low rates cash in hand, which supposedly benefits them because it avoids the higher tax rates people on visas have to pay, or to work more hours, but actually often enables bullying, threats and abuse.

  7. Mark

    @5 – glen, there are problems unions face in organising in these sectors. However, you would think that a Labor government might engage in a bit of the dreaded *regulation* to achieve the same end. Of course, that might be more upsetting to vested interests than handing out glossy leaflets…

  8. Mark

    Updated the post with a link back, glen. Thanks for reminding me.

  9. steve at the pub

    PatrickG, please copy & paste some examples of me accusing the left of Naivety.
    Every job should have a minimuum level of safety? Indeed, please list the unsafe aspects of leaning on a 7-11 counter
    Don’t need to head to a building site, they all come to me in the middle of the afternoon, heh heh heh. They tend to reverse their union-implanted “beliefs” if it is going to translate into more expensive beer. Funny about that. Perhaps their wallet habits are driven not by altruism but by self-interest?

    Mark, not one word I typed suggested that employers should be indifferent. I meant that the employees are rarely making a career of 7-11/servo console/whatever and can (with little harm to their career path) easily quit en masse & leave the unsafe employer properly in the lurch.

    Please provide your rationale for belief in a “free market utopia”.

  10. Mark

    I’ve already pointed out, steve, why leaving an employer in these circumstances is not that practicable an option.

  11. jose

    Mark @ 7: I would have thought that if you started ramping up regulations concerning conditions for casual workers in service industries you would actually start pushing more people into cash payment territory, as employers seek to dodge their obligations. Part of the problem here is that they are low-paid, relatively unskilled positions, and that there is not very much money that can be traded off here for improved conditions.

  12. Steve at the Pub

    Indian international students getting bashed up on the train, train station, or outside their digs somehow is an employer responsiblity? Requiring anti-employer action/legislation?

    Riiiiiiiiight!

    It is in fact a criminal offence matter, requiring police attention and a judicial response.

  13. Mark

    @11, jose, a lot of it is already in cash payment territory. The key here is enforcement.

  14. Glenn

    You provide a lot of criticism here Mark but very few solutions. Do you really think it’s realistic that every student (please stop making this an international student issue as if every student working a crappy job is international) has an escort from their workplace? The example you used for nurses etc is for very limited purpose. They are escorted to their car for example, or security is provided on site.

    How do you suggest we provide an escort for student who for most of the part can’t afford to drive? Should we pay a security guard to escort workers to the local train station and then again to their home? What about the safety of the security guard? Surely he can’t go alone after dropping off his charge. So we now need two security guards to take the poor student earning $12 per hour to and from work?

    Can I also please ask why this article is supporting the claims of racists attacks? It’s still not proven how many attacks are opportunist or racially motivated. But thanks to good old ‘unkle ‘dolf’ we look for racial ghost in every crime. I don’t’ dispute that racial crimes happen, I’m just sick of fingers being pointed (and reported on) as if they are verbatim where such evidence does not exist.

    I think you’re oversimplifying the issue here and adding fantasy solutions that are by no means realistic or economically viable and adding in little snippets of alarmism using terms like ‘racially motivated’. Isn’t the real issue here crime in big cities?

  15. Mark

    Glenn, the issues about racial motivation were canvassed on the previous thread comprehensively. Nor is a ‘reductio ad absurdum’ appropriate. I wasn’t suggesting personal escorts. Try reading what I actually wrote.

  16. liz

    Mark – regulation is not always the friend of the precarious worker. One of the first conversations I had with a student cabbie about unionism, a guy I had met at the 2006 cabbie demo, was the fear of the deals that unions cut. Because many students are forced by the restrictiveness of their visa conditions to work outside their legally allowed hours, they seek off-the-books work. They fear unions making deals that involve “cleaning up the industry” in exchange for improvements for certain sections of the workforce, like the owner drivers (more likely to be TWU members than bailee drivers) – to these drivers, that means immigration raids. Many of the student drivers I met in 2006 were fearful of the unions as much as the state.

    Melbourne taxi authorites have not been subtle about their attitude to the student protests – whenever cabbies threaten or take action, they are faced with multi-departmental raids: the Victorian Taxi Directorate, Vic police, tax office, immigration department swoop on cab ranks all over town. unlucky cabbies can be picked up for violating their visa conditions or for breaches of tax law (cabbies are not employees – they are not even sub-contractors. They are leasees without the status of employees). Ironically this style of raid was in many ways pioneered to ‘rescue’ trafficked women: local councils, AFP, immigration, raid brothels and often find…. international students working over their visa conditions!

    Many of the cabbies at the two student demos were openly calling for unionisation: the attitude of the TWU, expressed explicitly by their organisers at a meeting of angry cabbies in March 2009 , is that bailee drivers (the ones who don’t own the cab at all and lease it out from the owner) are considered too much trouble by the union leadership, unless the cabbies could sign up a number of members, with a year’s dues up front. I wrote the following in a report about the driver action on March 19th, 2009, when a group of mostly owner drivers did a go-slow driving action in the city to protest the release of new licenses (none of the student drivers were involved):

    “Whilst I’m not an enormous fan of the Labor Right TWU myself, the
    drivers are actively seeking union backing. Most of the driver militants are
    driving 6 or 7 days a week for 12 hours, so continuing the current level of
    activity without some organisational support is going to prove a problem.
    Thus far the TWU seems surprisingly uninterested in the mass recruitment
    potential of involvement in this struggle, sending a few hard-working but
    lower level recruitment organisers along to the demo. Considering that their
    membership in the industry seems mostly confined to the owner drivers and
    the over 50s, one hopes they can see the potential not just in this struggle
    but in supporting and recruiting the Indian and other international students
    whose explosive struggles over safety issues in the taxi industry in 2006
    and 2008 are what has made the broader public and the union movement
    sit up and take notice of conditions in the industry. CARA and the VTDA
    would not have the seats at the table that they have to negotiate hard with
    government without the sacrifices of the student drivers, many of whom
    lost their jobs after their participation in the April 2008 demo, which shut
    down the centre of the CBD for 24 hours.
    The TWU would do well to take notice of the consequences of focusing
    solely on the existing membership instead of looking out for opportunities
    to expand membership amongst the future of the industry. The Textile
    Clothing and Footwear Union (TCFUA) may find that they have left their
    run too late, with the closure of their key unionised factories at Pacific
    Brands, and the small returns from their ad hoc approach to recruitment
    amongst outworkers and home-based workers, now the vast majority of
    the industry. The TWU is in an envious position compared to the TCFUA,
    whose workers are mostly home-based migrant workers. Potential TWU
    members have taken their own action on the streets of Melbourne several
    times over the past few years, and in the case of the international student
    taxi drivers, have shut down the centre of the city twice over safety issues.
    These workers organised with no more support than their mobile phones,
    word-of-mouth, and a couple of hastily drawn up fliers. Imagine what they
    could do with the full backing of their union.”

    In the piece Ben Rosenzweig and I have written in Overland, we give some other examples of even less subtle union indifference.
    http://web.overland.org.au/?page_id=1960

    Whilst obviously the international student worker is in a particular bind of restrictive visa conditions, full-time study, and no safety net, it is also the case that, as in cabbie and brothel work, the nature of the work – sub-contracted, ABN work – as well as the particular industries, render organisation difficult. Or at least, the type of union organisation that we are used to seeing. Whilst the CFMEU’s open hostility is not a surpise to those of us familiar with the CFMEU NSWs history of supporting immigration raids (in direct contrast to the Vic CFMEU), the TWU’s is a pretty direct example of the too-hard basket that ABN and su-contracted and home-based work represents for many unions. We all know the TCFUA has valiantly struggled to organise outworkers and has failed – maybe a bit too little, too late, but the structure of our unions, which increasingly demand a year’s membership dues from a new member with a pre-existing problem (is wage slavery considered a pre-existing problem?), make it difficult to do otherwise. Servicing the existing membership vs ensuring the long-term survival of the union, particularly in industries which are being massively tranformed via outsourcing, sub-contracting, off-shoring – not an easy balance to work out. But I think that is part of the problem international student workers face, that is, if the unions even want them – which apart from the LHMU Vic in cleaning, and the UNITE union, there is very little evidence of.

    Do I think regulation, and trying to gaffer tape up the social democratic compact are the answer? Absolutely not. Because of course non-citizen workers sit outside the boundary of that social democratic state – a return to the glory days of Australian unionism offers nothing for the close to half a million temporary workers in Australia.

  17. Mark

    Liz, thanks for the comment. Note that I didn’t say in the post that unionism was the answer for these workers, necessarily, just that it had been the vehicle through which nurses and public service workers gained safer working conditions.

    I’m well aware of some of the dynamics within unions, and also as I said to glen, of the difficulties of organising in this sector even when the will is there.

    I’d be interested, though, in your supplementing your last paragraph where you suggest what isn’t the answer, with a view on what is.

  18. Glenn

    As much as I despise the diatribes that Steve is prone to come out with, I must say that he’s right is saying employers can’t be responsible for their workers journey to and from work. It’s just not realistic. How about a tax rise so we can improve our police services? “OH NO NOT THE TAX MAN”. While we live in a self-involved society where people cheer at their $5 tax decreases instead of thinking of public services, these issues will continue to occur. We won’t see employers taking this responsibility because it’s too complex.

  19. Glenn

    Mark, you pointed out that the union support from nurses was how they gained safer working conditions. Please outline these safer conditions. As far as I’m aware (my good friend is a student nurse) the only ‘safety’ the nurses are offered is an escort to and from their car. Please tell me how this is applicable to the preson working 5 suburbs away who catches a train to work? You’re comparing apples with oranges I’m sorry.

    As I said, this is not an issue that employers can resolve. It is a crime issue that needs to be addressed at a governance level. But there I go again… pointing out the absurd.

  20. Mark

    Glenn, it would help if you read what I said in the post.

  21. Steve at the Pub

    As much as I despise Glenn’s unneccessary, unprovoked, self-demeaning and irrelvant snark at me, (you’re a class act Glenn) he has a point, providing “cot to workplace and return” physical security for employees is too complex for employers.

  22. Mark

    Poor petals they are?

    Two words. Cab voucher.

  23. liz

    Hi Mark,

    Point taken on unionism: I don’t want to say that unionism and regulation are the same thing, or attribute things to you you haven’t said. But my little rant about social democracy was a flippant way of talking about the road to hell being paved with good intentions, and the unionisation stuff is something often talked about in relation to internationals minus an examination of Australian union’s willingness to get on board.
    I think that the UNITE campaign is not a bad start in a discrete area. It is pretty modest, but its premised on the UNITE being hostile to the restriction of international students work rights, and an absolute refusal to co-operate with immigration authorities to the detriment of the workers. These are modest things, but unfortunately they stand out. I am pretty inspired by the stuff that student cabbies have managed to pull off: the 2006 and 2008 demos, plus they were heavily involved in the protests about violence. I think that new forms of organisation need to evolve to accomodate the more isolated types of work like cab driving – and that the New York Taxi Workers Alliance is a fantastic example of this.
    http://www.nytwa.org/

    Biju Mathew, volunteer organiser with NYTWA, and author of “Taxi! Cabs and Capitalism in New York City” provides an excellent analysis of industrial transformation, urban recomposition and its racial dynamics, and the relationships to border regimes and restrictions of movement, all in a modest little book about small victories in the big nasty New York taxi industry. And with the increasing push towards set pay-in for leasing cabs, driven by the pervasive power of the depots and big license owners, the shift to the “sweatshops on wheels” of New York City means the work of the NYTWA may unfortunately become eve more relevant to your average Melbourne cabbie.

    I think it begins with a recognition that the generation of workers that these international students are part of, are now unlikely to work in the same industry for decades at a time, unlike most union organisers and top-level officials, who have mostly done decades in their industry. That is seeing our limitaionts. Experimenting with solutions is really up to workers – but I think the way the cabbies pulled off 2 CBD shut-downs, the second without the benefit even of the radio dispatch system (an advantage NYTWA has, with New York’s multi-lingual, multi-channel dispatch system) suggests they are thinking about it. They are organising all the time – mostly against passenger violence. But because of their precarious position and lack of allies, I think they are mostly organising resistance in less public ways – for now.

    The LHMU has hired one international student organiser, in cleaning – less difficult, as your average weekly cleaning roster requires no conflict with the 20 hour work restriction. But good on them for doing it.

    But I suppose I think that examples like the NYTWA, a mostly migrant worker union, fed up with the corrupted and comfortable local union, is potentially more fruitful.

  24. Mark

    Thanks again, liz. I think it’s important to share information about what’s actually happening in a positive direction, while recognising that there are no magic bullets, and all sorts of factors are at work simultaneously. Speaking of which, it’s interesting, if depressing, to see predictable reactions on this thread about the wonders of free labour markets; which gives me all the more confidence that, as I said in the post, the confluence of global capitalism and indifference to low waged workers’ rights and safety is a huge part of the problem here.

  25. Paulus

    What would be the consequences of providing the “protections from dangerous journeys to and from work” that Mark suggests? Late-night workers would not have to use public transport?

    OK, fine for them. Not so fine for other late-night travellers — eg students returning from the uni library — who now face a transport system with even less people around. Thus putting them at greater danger from the muggers.

    Rather than just helping workers — and ignoring everybody else — it would be far better, like Glenn said, to improve the general security of our inner cities and public transport.

  26. Mark

    The two aren’t incompatible, Paulus. It’s not necessarily an ‘either/or’.

    My point, though, relates specifically to the fact that the factors that encourage and ghetto-ise international students into particular workplaces are important to recognise.

    On the other thread, a range of people wanted to argue, in effect, that ‘there is no racist violence’, because it is a factor of people working in unsafe and isolated places late at night. Now, I’m suggesting that is actually an aspect of the whole structure enabling what’s going on, and it very quickly gets put into the ‘too hard basket’ or becomes someone else’s problem. Or, as I said in the post, small businesses have some sacred right to do whatever they want.

    There’s an oscillation in discussions of what’s occurring regarding Indian students between ‘there is no problem’ to ‘it’s all their choice’. That’s wrong, but it’s telling.

    Note that this comment isn’t directed at you. It’s a general observation about how online discussions seem to include a range of rhetorical maneouvres designed to avoid any recognition that we live in a racist culture, and that that has deleterious effects on particular groups and individuals. There’s an awful lot of disavowal going on.

  27. desipis

    Mark,

    Two words. Cab voucher.

    For the cost you might as well just go ahead and pay your employees enough so they can afford a car, as the cost of the cab to and from work would likely be about the take home pay of the employee. Of course then you might just go out of business…

    My point, though, relates specifically to the fact that the factors that encourage and ghetto-ise international students into particular workplaces are important to recognise.

    The ghettoisation occurs because as a group the international students are prepared to put up with worse standards of employment than most locals, mainly because the impact of not having a job is so much more significant for them. The racial discrepancies in motivation are caused by the relative wealth and welfare of other nations, something I don’t think we can or should take responsibility for. The only way for us to prevent such ghettoisation would be to make all jobs equally attractive, and attempts to regulate this would more likely just see those jobs disappear altogether rather than cause actual change.

    The attitude difference I see is that people have an expectation that hospitals are safe, while they don’t have the same expectation that taxis, service stations or convenience stores are safe late at night. It’s got nothing to do with the race of the employees, if anything I think its more likely to be a class issue. I think people are more likely to be concerned about the safety of the poor immigrate student then they are about the safety of the local high school drop out.

  28. Mark

    Of course then you might just go out of business…

    Not if it were the legal standard across the industry, desipis.

  29. Tim Dymond

    ‘Two words. Cab voucher.

    ‘For the cost you might as well just go ahead and pay your employees enough so they can afford a car, as the cost of the cab to and from work would likely be about the take home pay of the employee. Of course then you might just go out of business…’

    The argument that ‘____ benefit for employees will drive us out of business’ has been made by every employer since the dawn of time. The health and safety risk for an employee travelling to and from work is already an employment cost – except that in the late night service industry the worker takes on that cost (in physical danger) rather than the boss (in money). There are already workers compensation schemes that recognise injuries workers might get on their breaks or travelling to and from work – so there is nothing outlandish about the employer’s duty of care extending to the journey their employees take. It’s just a question of what a civilised society is prepared to pay for.

  30. Mark

    The only way for us to prevent such ghettoisation would be to make all jobs equally attractive, and attempts to regulate this would more likely just see those jobs disappear altogether rather than cause actual change.

    That’s another reductio ab absurdum, among other things. Improving working conditions in the night time service industry is *not* equivalent to “mak[ing] all jobs equally attractive.

    Are you seriously suggesting that servos and convenience stores would cease to exist?

    It doesn’t appear to have happened with increases in minimum wages and the new awards. Not that legal pay is always actually delivered, as I’m suggesting.

    Why is it that any relatively minor suggestion for reform immediately meets with claims that it’s all too hard, I wonder?

  31. Mark

    @29 – Tim, precisely.

  32. Tiara Shafiq

    As a former international student – and now PR applicant – I have to say that the possibilities of employment for international students in Australia are dire. You’re only allowed 20hrs/week max, but most places want at least 25 or 30 hours. It was only the past year that students were allowed to study part-time. And if you’re on a bridging visa, like I am, hardly anyone wants to hire you – either they make up policies about not hiring bridging visas, or their application forms don’t give you a chance to say that your visa gives you unlimited work rights anywhere, or they think you’re going to abandon them halfway.

    Add to that the difficulty of getting jobs as an ethnic person, and the lack of resources for money to anyone except confirmed PRs and citizens – no credit cards, no loans, no Centrelink, maybe Medicare if you’re lucky – AND the inane & longwinded visa application process with its rules changing yearly, AND the general lack of information given to international students about their rights…and it’s no wonder that international students end up taking the unsafe jobs. It’s the only place that would take them.

  33. Liz

    Thankyou Tiara! And I think it is worth noting that the majority must study full-time. That part-time thing is a discretionary special circumstance scenario via university authorities, yes? Or did I miss a massive shift in the visa regulations??

  34. desipis

    Are you seriously suggesting that servos and convenience stores would cease to exist?

    I’d say it’d be a possible result for poorer high-crime areas.

  35. EA

    I think Tiara is on the money as far as the driving forces behind so-called occupational choice is concerned for international students.

    There are also issues with migrant workers generally which haven’t been acknowledged in the debate thus far. Our visa system is broadly speaking, shit house. Moreover, there are also issues with the acceptance of internationally obtained qualifications that are not in English, which may lead otherwise qualified people into the service sector or manual labor.

    As a side note,
    Whilst there has been a growing globalisation of the academia, thanks in part to the internet, this appears to be mostly an English speaking phenomenon. Subsequently, there may be difficulties for people who have specialised in a different tongue. Their skills are not in question, it’s merely a matter of translation, and the more jargon, perhaps, the more translation. In turn the system may give preference to local or English speaking graduates, without any overt racism intended.

    The choice appears to be, for international researchers to produce articles in English, or to study at an English speaking institution. However, that’s not to say that research in non-English speaking countries are limited, some of the greatest minds are coming from China, for example, and they have the population to outstrip and push forward research like no where else (except India). But there are additional demands, translators, laws concerning censorship, laws concerning intellectual property and trade, which may impede some international communication.

    But this is a side-track – I’m merely illustrating that even amongst people who already have degrees there are challenges.

  36. desipis

    It doesn’t appear to have happened with increases in minimum wages and the new awards.

    I don’t think $8-$10 per shift for a pay rise is comparable to $80-$100 per shift for a taxi fair home, or $100’s per shift for a security guard to protect a single employee.

  37. Mark

    That’s a very expensive taxi fare, desipis.

    I’ve talked to Indian workers at my local 7 11 on the bus. Where they live compared to where they work would typically cost about $15-30 in cab fare home. In any case, there are no buses any more if they’re finishing after 11pm on weeknights in Brisbane in most localities.

  38. Chris

    Mark @ 30 – servos may not close down, but there’ll be a point at which its just not profitable to open late. Certainly happened to a bottle shop/convenience store near where I used to live. They had to have a security guard full time after dark. But that cost so much they simply decided to not open late. But, deregulate shopping hours so larger businesses can open late and its not so much of a problem – especially if you stick businesses like servos next door – safety in numbers. The downside is more people driving around rather than being able to walk to somewhere close which makes walking on the streets alone even more dangerous.

    People wanting to immigrate have to show they have the funds to support themselves. Perhaps greater self reliance requirements could be imposed on those wanting student visas? This would reduce the number of vulnerable people who feel they have no choice but to take the more dangerous jobs. At the cost of excluding the poorer students from the country.

  39. Mark

    Chris, estimates and legal requirements about how much it costs to live in Australia as a student are often wildly misleading, which is one of the reasons why people often live in dodgy rentals crammed full in unsafe suburbs, have to take crap jobs, etc. And the education industry – including at the high end (sandstone unis, etc) has a vested interest in continuing to mislead.

    My recollection is that UQ, for instance, claims that 12k is sufficient to live on for one year in Brisbane. That’s less than the dole, and if you could find a place to rent close to UQ for less than $200-$250/wk a room, you’d be doing remarkably well.

  40. Liz

    Here is a an old-ish but useful take on oz migration policies that I have found very useful
    http://www.migreurop.org/article913.html

  41. Tim Dymond

    You get the impression in this discussion that the employers in question are struggling small business operators barely scraping together enough for bread and dripping – so they have to pay crappy wages because anything else will send their kids to poorhouse.

    Just to take the service station industry – according to this industry report (a few years old now) 75% of the sites are owned by Shell, Mobil, BP and Caltex. I understand franchising makes day to day business arrangements murky, but we aren’t talking about owners who lack the cash for a taxi voucher.

    http://www.anz.com/documents/economics/Service_Stations_Aug_2006.pdf

  42. Liz

    Oh and good luck Tiara – a couple of my mates just got thru before they changed the rules again. I don’t envy anyone going thru that nonsense.

  43. Chris

    Mark @ 39 – yes the government has an obligation to provide accurate information for prospective students even if its against their short term interests. More student specific housing close to the campuses would also help.

    Tim – I’d guess that many are owned by Coles & Woolworths now? Who are also not short of money. And they could always just charge a bit more at night if they needed to which is probably not an option for restaurants.

  44. anthony nolan

    An interesting discussion that I’d like to expand a little to highlight the shoddy working conditions offered to any students in Australia whether international or not. It really is a matter of widespread acceptance of the MacDonaldisation of particular service sector work especially food and drink. Where the employee is young he or she can expect to be exposed to all kinds of unsafe conditions, OH+S breaches, shitty wages and routine attempts at sexual exploitation. And that list of ills is far from exhaustive.

    There really is room here for a little old fashioned union recruitment and campaigning of the sort where the organiser is employed and then recruits within the workforce at the jobsite. I did it years ago and wile it can be perilous it is highly effective.

    This was brought home not so long ago when a young family member quit a ‘wait’ job in a local food outlet after deciding that the routine verbal abuse (in Italian, which she speaks) was too much. She was owed wages which were not forthcoming and were not paid up until I took three mates around for dinner and had a chat with the owner about his attitude to young workers.

  45. Liz

    Hi Anthony – see my post above re union attitudes to international students. The UNITE 7-11 campaign info is at http://www.unite.org.au

  46. conrad

    As a practical suggestion, we could treat scooters under a certain power like bicycles (i.e., no insurance etc.), which would make them very cheap. This is common in many places of the world and would allow people to get from one point to another easily. This way, even if you were poor, you wouldn’t have to go through dodgy areas without stopping.

  47. anthony nolan

    Liz @45 – terrific. Expect my associate membership application soon. I couldn’t tell from yr site but it it a registered union? If not, doesn’t matter to me as the ‘offical’ unions can be very hidebound to say the least.

  48. joe2

    Mark @ 7: I would have thought that if you started ramping up regulations concerning conditions for casual workers in service industries you would actually start pushing more people into cash payment territory, as employers seek to dodge their obligations.

    [email protected] you know what you do about that resultant problem?

    My suggestion is that the government set up a dob in a cheat boss phone line with a direct connection to the taxation department. It is high time the emphasis was taken away from prosecuting the recipients of this activity. Those who offer it should lose the right to run a business.

  49. Frankie V.

    This is not the Colombo Plan, this is a business. It’s not the job of the Australian taxpayer to provide foreign nationals with an eduction. Nor is it their responsibility to provide international students with subsidised transport or accommodation.

    Small businesses get held up every day in Sydney, in broad daylight, in crowded shopping precincts. I’m not talking about service stations and TAB’s but bread shops and hair salons.

    This is a law and order issue, and the idea that you can secure a petrol station forecourt as easily as a hospital car park is fanciful.

  50. Liz

    Hi Anthony – have worked a bit with UNITE and am an associate member myself. My understanding is that they are legally registered as a trade union or were when I last checked!

  51. Labor Outsider

    Mark, I have no problem with you raising the issue of exploitation of immigrant workers in the service industry, but I don’t think it is reasonable to extend the duty of care to ensuring a safe passage home for such employees.

    Have you thought about the consequences of imposing potentially large additional costs onto employers?

    Let’s say that it became mandatory to offer cab vouchers to employees journeying home after say 11pm. Even if the average cost of that journey was only $20, for an 8 hour shift that would imply a 25% increase in labour costs. Part of that additional cost will be passed on to consumers, part will be absorbed in profit margins. But it will also encourage substitution away from some of the low-skilled workers that are currently employed in the industry. It is very unlikely that there wouldn’t be negative employment effects from such regulations.

    While it is not unreasonable to expect employers to provide a safe working environment, it seems a bit unfair to assume responsibility for a safe passage to and from work when that is a responsibility of broader society. It is fine to draw attention to the plight of workers that have to take greater risks than others to earn a living, but you need to think more carefully about the appropriate response to the problem you have identified. Forcing employers to provide cab vouchers could end up harming the people currently working those jobs as much as helping them.

    “I understand franchising makes day to day business arrangements murky, but we aren’t talking about owners who lack the cash for a taxi voucher.”

    Actually, the above quote demonstrates how little you understand about how businesses operate. It is irrelevent how much “cash” Shell has. What matters is the profit margin of the individual franchisee and how they are likely to react to a new regulation that imposes additional costs upon them, not all of which can be passed on to consumers.

  52. Mark

    But it will also encourage substitution away from some of the low-skilled workers that are currently employed in the industry.

    I know we’ve had this argument before, LO (ages ago), but labour substitution doesn’t have much relevance in a lot of service industries – particularly in smaller outfits (precisely why there is so much pressure to keep labour costs low). Coles might be able to sack check out staff by installing electronic self checkouts, as they’ve done down the road from me, but in smaller retail businesses you need a certain minimum number of staff for customer service, stock control, etc. 7 11s are already operating on the minimum – which most of the time is one. You can’t have none and have an open shop. Similarly, in hospitality, if you reduce the number of staff, the customers get poorer service, and go somewhere else.

    So, yes, someone does have to pay, though I would imagine that profit margins in convenience stores are generally reasonably healthy anyway.

    But I don’t see any difference with the acceptance that traveling to and from work is directly related to employment (as recognised in both the tax and compo systems). The problem with ascribing the responsibility to ‘society’ is that often effectively means doing nothing. Improved lighting, CCTV, more police patrols, etc. by necessity have a more diffuse impact, and the primary benefit to the owners of 24 hour convenience stores accrues from the willingness of people to work there. It’s not the same as citizens going about their business. Most people wouldn’t otherwise choose to stand around on the street corner in some dangerous ‘hood at 3am.

  53. Labor Outsider

    There is pressure to keep labour costs low in almost all service industries employing predominantly low-skill workers because a variety of competitive forces keep margins low. It may be that there are a minimum number of staff that have to be kept on at any one time, but that doesn’t mean that the number of places open late at night might not shrink if the costs of opening late increase significantly. So shrinkage in employment in that scenario would come less through reduced number of employees on a given shift, than fewer late not shifts in total.

    And I don’t see why society taking responsibility has to imply doing nothing. Indeed, by forcing the cost on to employers, consumers (and employees that lose their jobs) wouldn’t society be doing something? So, society can motivate itself to impose costs on employers but not improve community safety? Even if I accept your premise that employers have a duty of care here, that doesn’t imply that society doesn’t also have a duty of care here and the burden of its cost shared rather than imposed entirely on employers.

    Very few employers accept direct responsibility for the safe passage of workers to and from their place of employment. Even the benefits that extend to nurses are much more limited than what you suggest. Moreover, it is much easier to achieve in public settings because governments can more easily pass the costs of their policies on to consumers.

    Employees take all sorts of risks commuting to work each day. Indeed, I suspect that the average motorist is more likely to be injured on the way to work than the average Indian using late night public transport is. But safety on the roads and our public transport systems are quite rightly seen as public goods and we all share the burden of ensuring that safety rather than asking employers to contribute to the cost of that protection directly.

  54. mick

    In relation to Tiara’s above comment,

    Can anyone give a good rational explanation as to why the number of working hours is so strictly limited for foreign students? I remember when I was at UQ and regularly heard of the immigration department conducting raids on international student sharehouses in order to bust them for overworking.

    I guess the original reason for the work limitation was that the students are meant to be primarily studying full-time. Surely there’s a better way of ensuring this than imposing strict rules on the working hours?

    As for the Oz visa system in general, it actually isn’t too bad. I used to whinge about it but for the most part it is much fairer than what folk generally encounter within the EU or in the US…

  55. anthony nolan

    Labor Outsider @ above:

    You write that “a variety of competitive forces keep margins low.” That appears to me to be an ambit claim for that requires some explanation as to which market forces keep margins low?

    you also write:

    “Very few employers accept direct responsibility for the safe passage of workers to and from their place of employment.”

    Given the geography, ethnicity and labour market issues involved we know the following: a large numbers of victims of violent crime in Melbourne are of sub-cintinent ethnicity, on student visas, residing in poor conditions in subiurbs where they are subject to racist attack and where there is no support available for travel to and from work which is frequently casualised and involves shift work That is the minimum of what we could know. The same or similar kinds of objectively disadvantageous conditions probably apply to other people in similar structural locations but their ethnicity would vary, they may be (most likely are Australian born young citizens) and so on.

    With the above in mind it is useful to note that worekrs’ compensation once, and may still, cover travel to and from work. The violence at issue here appears to me to be constructable as an occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation issue.

    Immigrant, aspirational immigrant, resident or citizen it is reasonable to focus on what these humans have in common. Mostly, it is their youth. It is unacceptable for market rationality to dominate so much that the democratic rights to physical safety and security an identifiable group are sacrificed. In this instance the group is young people. Where they are victims of violent crime in relation to employment, at work or on their way to and fro, they ought o be entitled to compensation in some way.

  56. Mark

    that doesn’t mean that the number of places open late at night might not shrink if the costs of opening late increase significantly

    I take it neither of us know how much labour costs typically are as a component of overall costs in convenience store retail, LO, so it’s a bit moot. But I think in some instances you’d find rent would be a bigger cost, and their prices are very high anyway. I would imagine the margins would be slimmer in hospitality, because they require more staff, generally.

    Even the benefits that extend to nurses are much more limited than what you suggest.

    I don’t know about other states, but that’s not true of the big public hospitals in Brisbane. I’ve got a mate who works for the Nurses’ Union, and I’m not just pulling this stuff out of my hat.

    But safety on the roads and our public transport systems are quite rightly seen as public goods

    It’s not comparable for two reasons (at least):

    (a) There’s a very different perception of risk culturally and psychologically. People might anticipate that there are dangers on the road, but no one wants to be on a bus or a train late at night with dodgy drunk and abusive people, mentally ill people, big gangs of scary looking kids, etc. I have never driven a car in my life, but believe me, I don’t particularly enjoy some late night train and bus trips, even though I know that my chances of being attacked are pretty low (in large part because I’m a white male, so I’ve got no particular fear that I’ll be singled out because of visible difference or gender for harrassment);

    (b) Again, I’d go back to the point about the diffuse nature of the benefit of improved public transport, public safety, etc. It’s not particularly economic to run buses at night except on well travelled routes which are direct and not particularly long. The costs, in total, would be a lot higher, and much more so when people are finishing work after 11pm. It’s a lot more expensive, for instance, to employ night time security guards on trains, than to pay for someone’s cab fare home. And then there’s the trip to the bus or train, etc.

    Note that I’m not arguing against much better public transport or public safety. But I simply don’t accept that employers have no obligation to take care of their employees when they expect them to work through the night in dodgy conditions.

    I’d add to all of what I’m saying, from my experience as a night owl of deciding to go and buy chocolate at 1 or 2am, the people who work in convenience stores have a lot of customers who are drugfucked and intending to steal stuff, as well as drunks who want to abuse people and pick a fight. It really would be an unenviable occupation.

  57. Mark

    I guess the original reason for the work limitation was that the students are meant to be primarily studying full-time. Surely there’s a better way of ensuring this than imposing strict rules on the working hours?

    Universities and colleges are *required* by law to keep attendance records for international students, mick, and to report them if they fall below 80% attendance, I think.

  58. Mark

    the people who work in convenience stores have a lot of customers who are drugfucked and intending to steal stuff, as well as drunks who want to abuse people and pick a fight. It really would be an unenviable occupation.

    I’d add that I suspect it’s a lot harder to deal with these sort of folks if you’re of a different cultural background, likely to be disrespected by them, have less competence in English, etc.

    I really feel quite worried for the young Indian woman who works at the 7 11 down the road from me, sometimes. She deserves better than the cage she’s got around the counter.

  59. Labor Outsider

    Anthony – there are Productivity Commission, ACCC and other reports that show that margins in the retail sector (convenience and service station) are low. It is a highly competive industry with few barriers to entry.

    I don’t dispute that low-wage workers working late night shifts expose themselves to some dangers – my dispute is whether it is reasonable for employers to take responsibility for the safety of a system (public transport and otherwise) that they have little control over. OH&S usually applies to the environment the employer can control directly. In this case the safety concerns could only be avoided by imposing costs on employers that I think are likely to be prohibitively high.

    Also, I think it is a bit of an overstatement to say that young people have sacrificed their right to safety in the name of market rationality. If I am beaten up on the way to my work, I am not entitled to compensation from my employer. Nor should I be unless the employer could reasonably avoid the harm that I am subject to. I think having to pay for cabs home is too high a price and the problem with safety on transport and getting around at night is a problem that should be dealt with by the relevent authorities.

  60. Mark

    I think having to pay for cabs home is too high a price

    30 bucks?

  61. anthony nolan

    LO: it used to be the case that in NSW you were covered under workers’ comp for misadventure or accident during travel to and from work so long as you were travelling by the most direct route. You were also covered en route for food at lunchtime. I don’t know if that still applies. But it seems a reasonable proposal to me to extend and/or sustain that as a policy. Payments in all australian states come from state run schemes to which employers compulsorily contribute so any costs are spread around all employers. Employers would resist, but they would, wouldn’t they?

  62. Mark

    Same with Queensland, anthony.

  63. Liz

    On work restrictions and attendance: only TAFE students have the 80% attendance requiremnts. As for work restrictions, they have not been properly examined since an old industry commission investigation in 1990. Visa conditions enforcing full-time study are already in place if they are worried about people studying. It is also a visa requirement to pass yr courses.

  64. Labor Outsider

    Mark, as I pointed out to you, for a low-wage worker, $30 could be more than 25% of the labour cost of the entire shift. You can’t think in terms of $30. Think in terms of total wages for such shifts over the entire economy and the total cost to employers of the vouchers over the entire economy. There are very very few parts of the economy where the labour cost of an activity can increase by 25% without that having a large impact on the firms involved and their hiring decisions, unless those workers’ productivity increased by a similar amount.

    And actually the total cost of employing night time guards on trains would probably be significantly less than the cab voucher policy because a small number of guards can protect a large number of commuters, which spreads the costs significantly. In addition, additional guards would offer much broader protection to other people that have to travel late at night for various reasons.

  65. Labor Outsider

    With regard to nurses, my mother is a nurse in Adelaide. I don’t recall her ever being offered a cab voucher home at the commencement or completion of a night shift. Perhaps this is standard practice in other hospitals though.

    Regardless, what you are proposing is effectively a tax on a particular component of labour (as I’ve explained to you elswhere, the incidence of a tax is often not where the tax is levied). Such taxes are rarely efficient and as I have said will show up somewhere (combination of lower wages per employee, fewer employees, higher prices, lower profits). The precise combination is an empirical question.

    What is without doubt is that such taxes aren’t particularly efficient. If you are that insistent about forcing firms to offer something like this it would be better to raise the revenue in a way that is likely to have smaller employment consequences. For example a small surcharge on all retail transactions.

  66. Mark

    @63 –

    On work restrictions and attendance: only TAFE students have the 80% attendance requiremnts.

    Liz, I’ve been told to take attendance in university classes because of that requirement, in faculties that have high concentrations of international students.

  67. Mark

    LO – re trains, I’d want to reiterate again that I’m talking about people whose shifts finish after 11pm. There is very little public transport at all in Brisbane after that, except on Saturday and Sunday nights when it’s specifically targeted to drunk people who want to get home from night spots. So we’re not just talking about hiring a security guard for a train, but running trains and buses at night for very few passengers indeed.

    In Brisbane, as well, many of the places where you find these sort of businesses are poorly served by public transport at the best of times.

    For example a small surcharge on all retail transactions.

    I’m not being rigid about this! That’d be fine by me, but one of the reasons why I’d like to see some responsibility placed on employers is that more enforcement in general is necessary to mitigate the range of illegal practices in these workplaces, all of which are part of the problem, as I said at the outset.

  68. Steve at the Pub

    “Illegal practices” in workplaces is going to be fixed by legislating that employers must provide cab vouchers to staff who work late?

    This thread just gets better & better!

  69. Mark

    more enforcement in general

    That’s what I said, Steve.

  70. Steve at the Pub

    ..but one of the reasons why I’d like to see some responsibility placed on employers is that more enforcement in general is necessary to mitigate the range of illegal practices in these workplaces, all of which are part of the problem, as I said at the outset.

    It is difficult to reconcile the entire sentence with anything other than “employers are the problem here, let’s get stuck into ’em”

    The only glaringly obvious illegal practice is a string of assaults & robberies on Indian students.

    Any chance of some enforcement there? Some sanctions agin those who behave illegally? Laying the boot into the employers who give these Indians a job isn’t going to do one thing to sort out those who carry out the bashings.

    What have I missed? Are the bashings carried out by Ethiopian/Somali refugee youth or something? What else could make them so untouchable on this site?

    Any thread on this site dealing with employment & economics is invariably comedy gold (sooner or later). Twisting blame for a series of late night muggings onto employers, (also guilty of unspecified “illegal practices”) is rather a quantum leap.

  71. PDAA

    This whole issue to be dealt with through stiff penalty rates for making people work outside of regular hours of business. Governments of both persuasions have gradually removed those kinds of regulations in the quest for flexibility etc. So it is really the governments’ responsibility to provide proper public services to it’s flexible workforce. What is required is more flexibility in the provision of public services.

  72. Mercurius

    SATP @ 70:

    Any thread on this site dealing with employment & economics is invariably comedy gold (sooner or later).

    Glad we could provide the laffs.

    There’s an amusing three-cup-and-thimble trick going on here among the interlocuters. The three cups are:

    a) The criminals
    b) The victims
    c) The victims’ employers

    The thimble is the “underlying cause(s)”.

    The interlocuters are:
    (1) LP regulars
    (2) Trollish interlopers

    Now, watch the thimble go round…

    When it’s posited by an LP regular that the thimble is under cup (a), because cup (a) is a racist cup, along comes a troll who says “no, no, no, the thimble is under cup (b), because the victims are spending all their time in those dangerous late-night jobs, nothing to see here, move along.

    So when an LP regular responds that, well, in that case, perhaps the thimble is under cup C, and the employers could be doing more to ensure that cup (b) doesn’t get crushed, the troll responds “no, no, no, the thimble is under cup (a), we should be going after the criminals.”

    But, Mr Troll, I thought you said at the start that the thimble wasn’t under cup (a)? Why, Mr Troll, you are a devilish cunning fakir, are you…

    …where’d that thimble go?

  73. Liz

    Hi mark – sounds to me like some unis are getting over-ethusiastic about their immigration powers! Unis aren’t required to report on attendance for higher Ed students. At dual sector institutions there is a separate attendance reporting system. It may be that everyone takes attendance for other reasons at the Uni to which u refer, but that this info is not actually used for anything other than internal purposes.

  74. Mercurius

    I think I see where the cross-purposes talk is coming from. Some of us are applying the “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” maxim, and attempting to analyse the factors that contribute to crime.

    Others are interested only in enforce, enforce, enforce, punish, punish, punish. In this atheoretical view, criminals appear in the community for no reason, like bindis in your lawn. Victims just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and there is no interesting or relevant reason why Indians might be statistically more likely to be found walking home from a gas station at 2am, and why white-collar middle-class professionals might be statistically more likely to be found taking the train in a well-policed precinct around Flinders St station at 5.05pm.

    In this view, it is a meaningless coincidence that the incidence of crime is associated with poverty and lack of education. So there is no cause to inquire into the ways in which wealth and education are distributed in our community, and no reason to ask why some people are more likely to be benefactors than others.

    Crime is an existential product of the moral agency of individuals; a causeless effect that operates in a vacuum. Our best response is to shut the gate forcefully and quickly after the horse has bolted.

    And they say lefties are naive.

  75. Liz

    Oops – I mean a seperate system for TAFE that generates info for immigration and one for higher Ed used more explicitly for academic assessments only

  76. Baraholka

    Marl,

    I would like to hear more about the Structural Racism part.

    AIU you on the other thread, you agree that a good many of the attacks are oppotunistic thefts but that the reason the Indians are in harm’s way in the first place is ‘Structural Racism’. Could you please elucidate ?

  77. conrad

    “Others are interested only in enforce, enforce, enforce, punish, punish, punish. In this atheoretical view, criminals appear in the community for no reason, like bindis in your lawn.”
    .
    I don’t think that’s correct. There are certainly intractable problems where the only short term (or perhaps medium term) solution is fairly harsh.
    .
    For example, unlike Mark and some other commentors, I think the problem with education isn’t restricted to dumb young males. What we’ve seen in the last 2 decades is a dismantling of the higher education system and a reasonable drop in standards in mathematics and science in high school, so now it’s quite possible to get a degree and still be competent at almost nothing. The end effect of this is that we now have 300K immigrants coming to the country a year, most of whom are paid very reasonably and most who have skills Australians will never be able to acquire. Not surprisingly, this pushes the cost of things like housing and general living up and many Australians are left at the bottom (or perhaps middle) of the pile. Because of this and no doubt other factors, many Australians get to be the trash of their own country or at least struggle being middle class. Indians and other groups then become a simple target for their resentment, even if they can’t understand where it comes from.
    .
    In case you believe this or something like it, then there is obviously no simple solution. However, given that Australia is entirely dependent on these immigrants in many areas (engineering, medicine, IT, etc.), you need short term solutions to stop attacks on them before any longer terms solutions can be adopted. If that happens to be enforce, enforce, enforce, then this is just symptomatic of the extent of the problem.

  78. desipis

    Given the geography, ethnicity and labour market issues involved we know the following: a large numbers of victims of violent crime in Melbourne are of sub-cintinent ethnicity, on student visas, residing in poor conditions in subiurbs where they are subject to racist attack and where there is no support available for travel to and from work which is frequently casualised and involves shift work

    Do we have statistics that show than these international students are more likely to face assault than the average person? Or more likely than the average person in their geography and employment situation?

  79. Baraholka

    Conrad @77

    The bashings are in the vast majority being perpetrated by ethnic gangs (non-Anglo). I think this means you need to modify your spiel just a little, though I agree that youth unemployment is a contributor to the issue.

  80. desipis

    Mercurius:

    When it’s posited by an LP regular that the thimble is under cup (a), because cup (a) is a racist cup, along comes a troll who says “no, no, no, the thimble is under cup (b), because the victims are spending all their time in those dangerous late-night jobs, nothing to see here, move along.

    So when an LP regular responds that, well, in that case, perhaps the thimble is under cup C, and the employers could be doing more to ensure that cup (b) doesn’t get crushed, the troll responds “no, no, no, the thimble is under cup (a), we should be going after the criminals.”

    There are two different aspects being argued here. There’s the ‘racial’ part, and the ‘crime’ part. The (apparent) difference between levels of assault is the end result of a difference in employment value (language, culture, experience, etc) between “locals” and the international students. I don’t think it’s reasonable to put the responsibility of “correcting” the effects of this practical difference on the employers or society as a whole. The individual crimes themselves are the fault of the criminals, and the responsibility of society as a whole to prevent not just the business in closest proximity.

  81. liz

    Apparently Indian student leaders are paranoid for suggesting the Melbourne media is uninterested in really pursuing some of the attacks and their racist motivation.

    Is it not curious that a molotov cocktail attack on a Sikh temple in Melbourne goes unreported in the Age, or as far as I can tell, the Herald Sun? I have always struggle with the HS search engine, so I hope I am wrong

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/melbourne-sikh-temple-arson-an-attack-on-religion/story-e6frg6nf-1225819009767

  82. myriad74

    The bashings are in the vast majority being perpetrated by ethnic gangs (non-Anglo). I think this means you need to modify your spiel just a little, though I agree that youth unemployment is a contributor to the issue

    erm I might have misunderstood you B, but what makes you think that there’s clear proof that the majority of the crime is being caused by ‘ethnic gangs’ and also why would you dissociate youth unemployment rates from said ‘ethnic gangs’.

    IIRC some of our particular ethnic populations have disproportionately high unemployment (and provide good insights into how to do resettlement badly)

  83. Mark

    @76 – Baraholka, the post itself points to some of the confluence of factors which are components of structural racism in this instance.

    See also this:

    http://www.centerforsocialinclusion.org/about-us/what-is-structural-racism/

    I don’t believe I did say that “a good many” attacks are opportunistic theft. Some might be. But, if they’re accompanied by racial abuse, and if particular types of people are singled out, they’re not random. Crime is in fact very rarely random. That’s why the propensity to be the victim of assault is very variable among different demographic and age groups.

  84. Baraholka

    Myriad,

    The victims report that they are bashed by ethnic gangs. The Wikipedia page entitled something like ‘2009-2010 attcks on Indian Students In Australia’ has several examples of this.

    I don’t disassociate youth unemployment from ethnic gangs. I think its a strong contributor to the formation of such gangs.

  85. cautiouscowgirl

    Structural issues seem very much to blame, though it appears to be a precarious situation to manage without inflaming racial tensions ( esp leading up to australia day) as i think there seems to be a tragic overlap in terms of demographic and social trends.

    I’m wondering if the ‘authorities’ aren’t worried that speaking out about against some of the perpetrators may inflame tensions within the community toward police and students. Wasnt there some high profile clashes 6 months ago? Not doubt they are also conscious of the risk of a backlash against the perpetrators from those who perceive they are not to blame but are wearing the consequences that (i.e. indian cricket bans).

    Tricky.

    http://themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/world/49392-attacks-in-australia-put-india-in-a-bind

  86. liz

    Baraholka – in the track back through the ever-reliable wikipedia, I found the AM piece where some Sydney students described their attackers

    “The students AM spoke to say their attackers were from a range of ethnic backgrounds”

    Wow – that’s a stretch to go from “a range of ethnic backgrounds” to “ethnic gangs”. Are white people from an ethnic background in your curious world, or are they the neutral safety colour?

  87. murph the surf.

    From the Malaysian Insider article -“Senior Indian diplomats in Australia paint a complex situation, where the conflict is not merely between whites versus other races but also among non-whites.

    “Many of the attacks are done not by whites but by others such as Lebanese who resent Indian students who accept less pay, work harder and are considered more reliable,” a senior official told The Straits Times in a telephone interview.”
    .
    It is a bit disappointing to see the indian spokeperson having to resort to derogatory comments about other groups here in Australia.
    Who is informing them of the supposed attitudes that our lebanese descended citizens have?

  88. liz

    Oops – I think my comment disappeared so I hope this doesn’t opo up again twise as me ranting in stereo…. I backtracked through the wikipedia links, and I wonder, Baraholka, how you got from:

    “The students AM spoke to say their attackers were from a range of ethnic backgrounds”

    to “the victims report that they are being bashed by ethnic gangs”. are whites an ethnic background, and are groups of whites and ethnic gang, or are they neutral safety colour?

    Is this the bit were we talk about how Indians are being bashed by Lebanese background people in Sydney so therefore there is no discussion about race to be had? And then we do stupid things like compare violence levels in India and Australia and remind Indians that they have a caste system?

  89. Mark

    I can’t see the logic in this anyway. Is it another way of saying “we” (ie Anglo Australians) aren’t at fault/don’t have to worry? Just dark skinned people attacking each other?

  90. liz

    damn it I knew it!

    Hi Murph – I think the slur on Lebanese folks is related to some attacks in Harris Park earlier this year.

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/indians-rally-as-suburb-seethes-20090610-c2ei.html

  91. desipis

    SATP:

    It is difficult to reconcile the entire sentence with anything other than “employers are the problem here, let’s get stuck into ‘em”

    While I think its a bit of a stretch to make employers responsible for the safety of their employees while they are traveling to and from work, there are a lot of employers who do engage in illegal behaviour in order to make an extra buck, often at the expense of their employees. Base on my experience this area of law could certainly do with better enforcement.

  92. desipis

    Mark,

    I can’t see the logic in this anyway. Is it another way of saying “we” (ie Anglo Australians) aren’t at fault/don’t have to worry? Just dark skinned people attacking each other?

    Its saying that these crimes are just like other crimes in that they should be minimised as much as reasonably possible, but don’t deserver any special moral outrage.

  93. liz

    Eh gads – maybe third time lucky I will get the rant right. The Indian and Lebanese stuff is about Harris Park usually – a suburb that lots of Indians and Lebanese background people live in together – and it is often cited as a way of convincing us that “ethnic violence” from “ethnics” means that any conversation about structural racism that privileges whiteys in the labour market, education system, world is irrelevant.
    It often comes as a great relief to some commentators that “we” (white people) didn’t do it.

  94. Mark

    @92 – huh? Is “special moral outrage” like “special rights” or something?

    Why should these crimes be ‘minimised’? So we can avoid talking about the fact that Indians are being bashed and killed? So we can avoid thinking that racism might just be a problem in this society?

  95. cautiouscowgirl

    I can’t see the logic in this anyway. Is it another way of saying “we” (ie Anglo Australians) aren’t at fault/don’t have to worry? Just dark skinned people attacking each other?

    I hope it didn’t come across that way. I abhor violence and violent cultures. I’m just trying to get a picture on whats happening as the media and gt seem to be treading very carefully with this one.

    Btw i notice the extremists calling for a cricket ban are threatening violence should the tours go ahead. Ironic.

  96. Mark

    The comment wasn’t directed at you, cautiouscowgirl.

  97. desipis

    Why should these crimes be ‘minimised’?

    Because crimes are bad and we should try to reduce the frequency of their occurrence.

    So we can avoid talking about the fact that Indians are being bashed and killed?

    No, I think we should be talking about people getting bashed because I don’t think the crime is limited to just indian students.

    So we can avoid thinking that racism might just be a problem in this society?

    I just think we need some statistical evidence before we go rushing to conclusions about racism based on anecdotal evidence.

  98. Fine

    Obviously, ‘dark-skinned’ people can’t be Australians either. Very odd logic.

  99. Mark

    I just think we need some statistical evidence before we go rushing to conclusions about racism based on anecdotal evidence.

    That was the subject of a very comprehensive discussion on the previous thread.

    Unless you mean ‘statistical evidence’ of racism itself. It’s always interesting to see that even though most people who respond to surveys have a strong tendency to avoid agreeing with statements which are overtly racist, around 20% still do.

    Check out the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes.

  100. Mark

    Elsewhere: Gary Sauer-Thompson:

    I am continually surprised by the attempts of both the politicians in Canberra and Victoria and the police in Australia to downplay the racism in Melbourne’s western suburbs that is expressed in the violent attacks against Indian students. All sorts of convolutions are involved, including pointing to the finger to Indian media, in the attempt to avoid the obvious—the curry bashing.

    The obvious is that racism in Australia is pervasive, part of the fabric of everyday life and normalised in ways that render it invisible, and make it one of the strongest forms of structural violence. This is what is being denied by the Brumby Government in Victoria, with its talk about random violence and opportunistic crimes, and its unwillingness to set up an agency that is responsible for international student safety.

    Yeah , I know. Canberra is battling to reassure New Delhi that Australians aren’t racist, fearful the outcry over violent assaults may harm relations and stop the flow of lucrative education dollars. The real concern is to keep the dollars flowing in from the international students not the racist undercurrents of Australian nationalism.

    The constant appeals to Australian multiculturalism (a tolerant and fair society) is an important policy image in attracting international students. Racism and multiculturalism are two sides of the same coin.

  101. Casey

    I’m shocked and surprised the disavowal has not collapsed in heap as the conversation has progressed.

    So shocked and surprised, I just had to put that full stop into the convo, just to let everyone know how shocked and surprised I was.

  102. conrad

    “The bashings are in the vast majority being perpetrated by ethnic gangs (non-Anglo). I think this means you need to modify your spiel just a little, though I agree that youth unemployment is a contributor to the issue.”
    .
    I’m not exactly sure which ethnic gangs you are refering to or what they even are exactly (are second generation Lebanese that hang out together an ethnic gang? Are Chinese that have been here 10 generations an ethnic gang if they hang out together also? Do Indians even really distinguish between, for example, white Lebanese and white Anglos? I’m sure they just look like white people to a fair chunk of the world — in much the same way as many white people think Africans are one big homogenous group). However, I don’t think it really matters — I think a lot of the people in those gangs are caught in the same shitty system that many of the Anglos find themselves in now — If you can’t get well educated these days for one reason or another, like because the training and education system is falling to bits and you don’t have the money to find another, then it is rather likely that you will hit the bottom of the heap.

  103. tssk

    The problem for these students is that that are so new they don’t know which areas to avoid. For instance as beautiful as Cronulla beach is I know from experience that it just isn’t safe for me or my family. Not everyone there is racist but after a couple of attacks I learned the hard way that it’s just no go for me. Locals only. (Even when I lived in the Shire I wasn’t ‘local’ enough.)

    Eventually I learned by experience that there were just some streets and locales I couldn’t go down.

    And of course even when talking to frineds who live (or lived) in the area they swore black and blue that there wasn’t any racism involved. It must of been a mistake. Or I must of provoked the incident in some way. Did any of those attacked in the Cronulla riots press charges or even complain to police? I suspect not. Because they knew as most first and second gen immigrants that one of the marks of proving yourself a ‘good Aussie’ is to not complain about the odd beating. Never dob. Smile and hope you don’t cop it again.

    And now it’s reached the stage again where some angry bogans feel justified with stabbing or setting on fire. Someone in one of the other threads cheekily referred to the murder as someone accidently backing into a knife. And we’ve already seen the spectre of moral equilalance turn up as well stating that some Indian students may have been involved in sex crimes (the unspoken there of course being that this person who was killed was due to some sort of community payback and therefore the murder wasn’t racist.)

    This is shouting into the wind though…Australia is of course the best country in the world and not racist at all. And only a whiner or a dobber would disagree.

  104. Baraholka

    Liz @86,

    Sorry to convery the impression that Anglos are not involved. I was explicit that Anglos are involved on the other thread.

    Having re-read my sources, “ethnic non-Anglo) gangs” is only accurate for the Sydney attacks and some of the Melbourne attacks. A lot of the Melbourne attacks seem to be mixed cohorts of friends, mostly of non-Anglo background, but also including Anglos. African gangs are involved in the Indian attacks, however. In Melbourne the great majority of the perpetrators are non-Anglo. In Sydney, the problem is highly attributable to groups of Lebanese youth.

    Anglos are certainly involved in the attacks on Indian nationals but they are not in the majority despite the typical (but not universal) characterisation in the Indian press. The majority of the attackers of Indian nationals are non-Anglos. This neither makes the crime nor the issue more or less serious, nor does it mean Anglos are never racist.

    I mentioned this fact as a corrective to Conrad who appeared to be attributing the crimes to Anglos. Maybe I misunderstood him.

    Yes, I have an emotional reaction against the portrayal of Anglo Aussies as, being one myself, I object to the irresponsible characterisation by the Indian press of Anglo Aussie police as KKK-like figures and the repeated implication that Anglo Aussies as a whole enjoy beating up Indians. The facts are on my side. Anglo Aussies are a minority of the attackers (not because they are less racist or more honourable than anyone else)

    The irresponsibility of the Indian press has led to incitement of hatred against Australians and has led to Hindu groups in India calling for retribution against Aussie cricketers and a general outbreak of resentful hatred, so far confined to the print and electronic media.

    Accurate reporting of the identity of the perpertrators would have mitigated this reaction, I believe.

    The attacks on Sydney’s Indian nationals are described by the victims themselves as coming from Lebanese youths.

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/were-not-the-racists/story-e6frfifo-1225720517445 quotes:
    Macquarie University student Mukul Khanna, called back home by his worried parents: “A lot of my Pakistani friends have left the place after being brutally attacked and robbed . . . Interestingly, the attackers are mostly not locals and are themselves people of foreign origin.

    In Melbourne (same Herald-Sun url)

    This year between May 8 and August 2 there were 12 reported robberies on taxi drivers in Flemington, Moonee Ponds and Ascot Vale. “Police will not officially acknowledge any particular ethnic group is a target, or that any other group is carrying out the crimes. But in every case the victims told police their attackers were African . . .”

    In The Guardian:

    http://www.guardianweekly.co.uk/?page=editorial&id=1410&catID=5

    Pulok: The media is giving a false impression of this – it could have been any ethnic group that actually did this. Last year it was bunch of Somali guys smashing up an Indian shop in Sunshine [a suburb three kilometres to the west] and bashing the owner. But you see all kinds of people not in their senses on the street and they can be dangerous.

    Rav: There are new migrants in this area from all over the place and not having much money is a big contributing factor. Indians usually find it much easier to find jobs (even if they’re not great jobs) than a lot of the African guys, so that probably causes some resentment.

    The Wikipedia article gives the same data, especially if you read the linked articles: mostly non-Anglos.

  105. cautiouscowgirl

    Tssk I’m so sorry to hear that, its appalling.

    And i totally get it. As a woman, i’ve always have to live like that.
    Sexism, sexual assault, rape.

    I dont know a single woman who doesnt always have to weight up her relative safety in any given situation. I recall up thread Mark saying he often wanders down to the NewFarm Night Owl at 2am to get a snack, and thinking, a woman couldnt do that as easily. I’ve lived in PNG and travelled widely, and can attest it certainly can be much much worse, but its still bullshit.

    Predatory men piss me off.

  106. Baraholka

    Let’s say an elderly woman is beaten up and her handbag stolen. During the attack her assailant calls her ‘a useless old hag’.

    Is that assailant ‘ageist’ ?
    He has singled her out based on age and abused her in ‘ageist’ language.

    Just because a person is singled out for attack by race or age, does not mean the attack is racist or ageist.

  107. FDB

    So what would constitute an ageist attack then, Baraholka?

  108. Mark

    Good question, FDB.

    Baraholka seems to have defined away racism altogether.

    Just because a person is singled out for attack by race or age, does not mean the attack is racist or ageist.

    Therefore, from this (?) logic, there is no such thing as a racist attack?

  109. Lefty E

    “I dont know a single woman who doesnt always have to weight up her relative safety in any given situation.”

    Someone once pointed out that the most analogous equivalent for men – in terms of day to day risk of sexual violence – was being in jail.

    Teenage boys in schools should be told that one.

  110. Mark

    I’ve been careful for a very long time to cross the road at night on non-crowded streets when I see a woman approaching, so I don’t contribute to that apprehension of danger, curiouscowgirl and Lefty E. I think that might have been a tip from the MASA days long ago!

  111. James Rice

    Mark at comment 56:

    I have never driven a car in my life, but believe me, I don’t particularly enjoy some late night train and bus trips, even though I know that my chances of being attacked are pretty low (in large part because I’m a white male, so I’ve got no particular fear that I’ll be singled out because of visible difference or gender for harrassment)

    cautiouscowgirl at comment 105:

    I dont know a single woman who doesnt always have to weight up her relative safety in any given situation. I recall up thread Mark saying he often wanders down to the NewFarm Night Owl at 2am to get a snack, and thinking, a woman couldnt do that as easily. I’ve lived in PNG and travelled widely, and can attest it certainly can be much much worse, but its still bullshit.

    This isn’t highly relevant to this thread, but in Australia men are more likely to be the victims of violence than women.

    According to police records reported by the ABS, in 2006 men were 2.04 times as likely as women to be murdered. Men were also 3.72 times as likely as women to be the victims of attempted murder. Women, however, were 1.66 times as likely as men to be kidnapped or abducted.

    The actual numbers are as follows. Murder: 186 (men), 91 (women). Attempted murder: 186 (men), 50 (women). Kidnapping/abduction: 270 (men), 447 (women).

    (See Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007) Recorded Crime – Victims, Australia: 2006, ABS Catalogue No 4510.0, Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.)

    According to an ABS household survey on crime and safety which asked people about incidents of certain crimes, regardless of whether these crimes had been reported to police, in 2005 men were 2.95 times as likely as women to be the victims of robbery (that is, an incident in which a person steals or tries to steal property from another person by physically attacking them or threatening them with force or violence). Men were also 1.15 times as likely as women to be the victims of assault. Women, however, were 6.23 times as likely as men to be the victims of sexual assault (this statistic only includes sexual assaults on adults – sexual assaults on children are not included).

    Here are the actual numbers, in thousands. Victims of robbery: 44.0 (men), 14.9 (women). Victims of assault: 412.6 (men), 358.0 (women). Victims of sexual assault (adults): 6.1 (men), 38.0 (women).

    (See Australian Bureau of Statistics (2006) Crime and Safety, Australia: April 2005, ABS Catalogue No 4509.0, Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.)

    The relevance to this thread, I suppose, lies in the fact that all the Indian victims of this recent spate of violence (or at least all of the ones I’ve heard of) have been men rather than women.

  112. Baraholka

    A racist attack is one where race is the motive.

  113. FDB

    Presumably you think a person only ever has a single motive then Baraholka.

  114. cautiouscowgirl

    “The relevance to this thread, I suppose, lies in the fact that all the Indian victims of this recent spate of violence (or at least all of the ones I’ve heard of) have been men rather than women.”

    Most women of any background (local or student) would never venture where the male victims did at night. God knows the statistics if they did.
    Still, its no justification for the victimization of anybody.

  115. Baraholka

    FDB @ 113

    No, I don’t think that there is always a single motive. But I am also aware that not every time where there is ageist or racist language or a bashing is there a racist motive. I am also aware that latent racism can be become expressed during a robbery, even if not the initial motive.

    Criminals often intimidate and insult their victims: they’ll pick on anything about them. Age and race are obvious candidates. This does not mean they hate the age or race of their victim.

    The perpetrators are getting off on power as well as merely trying to acquire money. Many in Western Sydney and Melbourne are powerless individuals. Young men express power through aggression and violence; I would guess even their robberies are linked to an assertion of power. Doesn’t mean they particularly hate their victims or even care who they are.

    But Indians have the advantage of being soft targets, easy pickings. Thugs are generally cowards. They’ll pick on the target that gives them least trouble.

    So I agree with Vic. police. The attacks are in the main opportunistic, though some are clearly racist.

  116. Mercurius

    @112

    This isn’t highly relevant to this thread…

    Then why try to derail the thread with that barrow you’re pushing?

    James Rice, you can only come up with formulations like yours by defining 90% of violence out of existence. If, like some on this thread are so prepared to do, you define 90% of racism and violence against women out of existence, then I guess they aren’t a big deal, in your world. Meanwhile, back in reality, domestic violence is violence, and it overwhelmingly affects women. Attempted rapes and assaults are violence. Verbal harassment, intimidation, stalking, emotional abuse, terrorising a spouse, is violence. Please take your statistical trolling elsewhere.

    The relevance to this thread, I suppose, lies in the fact that all the Indian victims of this recent spate of violence (or at least all of the ones I’ve heard of) have been men rather than women.

    Oh really? Well 100% of them were residents of Melbourne too. Let’s see – they’re all Indian, male, Melburnians. At least two out of those three descriptors are only incidental to motive. Which two, do you suppose?

    Don’t feed the troll, folks. I’ll be moderating this facet of the discussion, hard. James Rice if you don’t like it, go push your barrow on your own blog and tell all five readers all about it.

  117. James Rice

    Mercurius,

    I think you missed the several other, earlier comments on this thread that not only initiated, but perpetuated, this diversion.

    The statistics I mentioned include domestic violence. Domestic violence related assaults, for example, are recorded as assaults.

    If you think I have any desire to divert this thread onto another topic, you’re mistaken. The recent spate of violence is important enough. I was only responding to earlier comments.

  118. Baraholka

    Mark,

    Thanks for the link to the structural racism site.

    The reason I did not recognise any discussion of racism in
    your original post is that your post does not appear to
    describe racist practices.

    I do not deny that structural racism can exist. I just think
    you’re mis-diagnosing it. Many of the problems that you have listed
    seem to me to be largely those that affect all persons
    on basic incomes; most the rest require a predisposition to reflexively
    identify racism even where it does not actually exist.

    Not everything that impacts negatively on a foreign national is
    derived from racism. I wonder if you accept this ?

    Here’s some things I would accept as structural racism:
    No persons of color allowed to progress to rank above Sergeant.
    No persons of color allowed to progress beyond Year 10 at school.
    No persons of color allowed to apply for a bank loan.

    There are plenty of Anglos available who could take
    a job at a 7-11. Probably they don’t apply because the wages are
    unattractive. Unless you are saying the Anglos do apply and the 7-11 owners
    discriminitively hire in favour of foreign nationals in order to rip
    them off ? That would be racism, but not structural racism.

    Yes, foreign students take a lot of scummy jobs. Hey, so did I.
    Maybe you’re saying that the minimum wage for a 7-11 clerk
    is deliberately suppressed to ensure only foreign students take the jobs ?
    If so, I agree that would be structural racism.

    The immigration and visa conditions which limit working hours I would
    guess are there to make sure putative students actually study. I think
    this is a reasonable provision.

    The regulations which pertain to recognition of foreign qualifications
    could be reviewed, but it is not unreasonable to have some form
    of professional examination or local-industry-how-we-do-things-here
    brush-up prior to receiving your work ticket. This helps protect
    the general public including immgrant communities of course.

    The requirements for work experience e.g. 100 hours actually cooking/waiting
    in a restaurant do lend themselves toward exploitation. If there is no legal
    requirement to pay a work experience foreign national whereas payment
    is received by locals, I agree that would be structural racism.

    – Barra

  119. Jacques de Molay

    On “Face the Nation”, Mr. Tarun Vijay argued, “I believe that the Aussies are the most atrocious and horrendous racists on this planet. These people should be taught a lesson and they should be banned. Indian students shouldn’t be allowed to go to Australia…”

    Every race is racist (eg white people are called “Long Noses” in the Philipines) and every country has racism. While Australia certainly does have a racist history (like every other bloody country) it disappoints me greatly the level of hand-wringing being done by a small section of the community because of India trying to throw it’s weight around. Most of these attacks couldn’t rationally even be called racist. Race has to be the motive for them to be racist.

    The vast majority of evidence I’ve read does not point to racism being the central or main reason for the attacks. No criminal gives a shit about the skin colour of the owner of the wallet they just stole but rather how much money is inside the wallet. Most Indians that come here come from wealthy/well-off families in India (I’ve been told this by a number of people in the Indian community here), criminals know a well dressed Indian is likely to have more money than some young scruffy white guy wearing adidas tracksuit pants.

    What really annoys me in all this blustering about Indians and solely Indians is why we have to sit here and keep listening to their OTT bullshit when this is par for the course for Indians whenever they think they’ve been wronged (effigy burning by Indian cricket fans is almost a national past time over there as we’ve seen over the last 20-30 years).

    Why are people losing their minds over all this? I don’t remember too many people on here going nuts about Andrew Symonds being taunted as a monkey by very large sections of crowds in India a few years ago? What about the Caste system? All the acid throwing attacks on women in India? The high rates of sexual assualts by Indian taxi drivers on women here (in Adelaide it’s reasonably common anyway)? All that without even getting into why a lot of Indians are disliked/hated in countries like the US & even Singapore (as I’ve been told by locals in those countries including Native Americans in the US)? Pin drop.

    I’m a left-wing guy but it’s always disappointed me that a lot of left-wing people can’t discuss things like racism (or perceived racism in this case) rationally.

  120. Mark
  121. Tiara Shafiq

    $12k?! WHAT? I was struggling to stay under a $1000/month budget and this was before rises in Translink, rent etc. I would say double that and you have a better idea.

    Mick – re working hours: I have no idea. The worst part is that the 20 hours INCLUDES volunteering time. In my experience hardly anyone actually checks, it’s not like anyone needs an official timesheet, but you never know when you’ll end up on Border Security so you might as well stick to the rules. I think it is so that students concentrate on studying, since that’s what they’re here for.

    Re part-time: My housemate, who’s Japanese, told me they just changed the rules about that last year, but I only just heard so I don’t know.

  122. Mandi

    I am disturbed by some of the discussions I’ve seen here. All the concern for non-citizens. Whatever kind of Visa they take out, they are accepting a set of terms and conditions and if I was to get a Visa for India it would be under their terms and conditions.
    I agree that it is every citizen’s duty to make visitors welcome here, but I do not believe that it is every citizen’s duty to pay to look after them. (And before everyone tries to jump down my throat, in using the word non-citizen it is not meant as any type of slander or racist remark, it just means that they are not a citizen of Australia.) They have chosen to come here for whatever reason: a holiday or attempting to find or educating themselves to source a better life than the one they currently have. I personally am proud of that kind of courageous step, leaving your homeland can be exhilarating and scary.

    I recall two major incidents where Indian people were hurt and one event that impacted on me.

    1. A young Indian man bashed and left dead on the side of the road. The hoopla in the Indian Press. Australian’s are a racist and a vicious nation. He was bashed and killed by an Indian couple who he owed money to, and all because he couldn’t pay them the money when they demanded it.

    2. A young man was set on fire and had his car burned out. Again the high and mighty hoopla from the Indian Press condemning Australian’s again for being racist and a vicious nation. He did it to himself, he lied and said it was a gang, but all he wanted to do was put in a fraudulent claim into his insurance company to get money.

    3. I lost my job due to outsourcing to – wait for it – India. No redundancy package because I was one of those bottom feeders of the chain taking on shitty jobs working in the suggested “unsafe” conditions of “afternoon and night shifts” as a casual, because they didn’t hire on contract. I’m only mentioning this because some people are so focused on the treatment of ethnic workers.

    The thing I dislike most is the media involvement, report the news – yes – but stop spreading fear!!!! Until that can be addressed, all people will have generalized opinions that are not correct. Fear breeds hate and until that stops all hate crimes will persist.
    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/indian-tvs-unsound-fury-20100106-lu8y.html

  123. Helen

    Whatever kind of Visa they take out, they are accepting a set of terms and conditions and if I was to get a Visa for India it would be under their terms and conditions.

    I’m not aware of any country whose terms and conditions for visitor visas include getting bashed, robbed or killed.

    Re the incidents you recall, your recall is very selective, isn’t it? And your point? That some crimes were commited by Indian people, therefore our homegrown louts and thugs are justified in meting out some perverted idea of summary justice?

    I lost my job due to outsourcing to – wait for it – India. No redundancy package because I was one of those bottom feeders of the chain taking on shitty jobs working in the suggested “unsafe” conditions of “afternoon and night shifts” as a casual, because they didn’t hire on contract. I’m only mentioning this because some people are so focused on the treatment of ethnic workers.

    And you’ve just heard the dog whistle of some of our politicians loud and clear. Why is it that you blame the “ethnic workers”, Mandi, rather than the neoliberal suits who are the ones actually making the hiring decisions, pulling the strings and pocketing the profits? There are people, Mandi, who get great benefit from deflecting the blame for job loss away from the people who are really doing it. Do you really want to promote their cause in your own time? Don’t be such a mug.

  124. tssk

    Mandi:

    I am disturbed by some of the discussions I’ve seen here. All the concern for non-citizens.

    This makes me worry about humanity. We should be concerned for all but especially our weakest and most powerless members of society.

    As a civilization we should be judged by how we treat the most vunerable.

    Oh and Mandi, I know it’s hard but trust me. If the conservatives get in after the restructure to employee law you’ll get your old job back. On the same wages as those migrant workers were getting.

    Employers would love to employ Australians on the reduced terms and conditions they hire some of these other guys on.

  125. Mandi

    Helen.

    If you want to get down to brass tacks. I use to love travel, and was a fairly experienced one too. Learning first hand about different cultures. I was being careful, not flashing money, not showing too much skin, trying to be as respectful of whatever culture I was exposed to at the time, but that didn’t stop me from being subjected to theft or being gang raped, which lead me to return home to somewhere I feel safe. As for me I will probably never travel abroad again.

    “Re the incidents you recall, your recall is very selective, isn’t it?” What I was saying is there are thugs everywhere and bad happen regardless of who or where you are, whether in your home country or overseas. Its not a fair analogy to state that all offences against visitors or students are done solely by Australian Citizens.

    As for the Visa comment I apologize if I wasn’t being clear, that was in reference to student/bridging/working visa’s in regards to what you are allowed or not allowed to do here in regards to work/working hours.

    Employers do have the right to at minimum break even on their investment of hiring staff. For starters, they advertise for you, they train you and all the while your new and inexperienced in their field or type of work, you are being paid for this. As a general rule, once you’ve gotten the job it takes a full year including the training, ongoing training, gaining experience on the job, for the business to break even on their investment on you as a worker.

    So if they put up front not available to certain types of visa holders, aren’t they being responsible for not wasting peoples time by stating up front the kind of commitment they want from their staff?

    As to you comment of “Why is it that you blame the “ethnic workers”, Mandi, rather than the neoliberal suits who are the ones actually making the hiring decisions, pulling the strings and pocketing the profits?” I don’t blame the workers at all who have taken over those positions, and kudos to them. Should we also blame the internet and telecommunications for making the world a smaller place? I did what anyone else would do in my situation – go look for another job.

  126. Chris

    Re the incidents you recall, your recall is very selective, isn’t it? And your point? That some crimes were commited by Indian people, therefore our homegrown louts and thugs are justified in meting out some perverted idea of summary justice?

    Perhaps its that its unwise to immediately label any attack on and Indian as a racist one and wait until the police have had a chance to investigate? And that when the police claim that in specific instances they believe that there were not racist motives behind an attack that they might actually know what they’re talking about?

    Re: outsourcing. One very important thing to note is that Australian workers have also been a beneficiary of outsourcing – companies outsourcing work from other countries and moving work to Australia. And especially in the IT sector many of the jobs outsourced to countries like India may have low wages for Australia but are good wages for the country they end up in and the workers are not exploited. Some of the opposition to outsourcing is just based in racism.

  127. tssk

    Given your experiences Mandi I withdraw my comments and humbly apologise.

  128. Patricia WA

    Well done, tssk, not that you had that much to apologise to Mandi for. Though surely even your “most vulnerable” description means these are the members of our society most likely to be attacked. I’m not up on crime statistics but I would think the mugging of old ladies for their handbags is reasonably high in accounting for assaults no matter where and what the time of day. The problem for the rest of us whether Indian, Lebanese or true blue Aussie going home late at night alone through parks or on deserted streets makes us vulnerable too.

    I thought Helen was less understanding of Mandi’s point of view. She was clearly saying that we all travel anywhere in the world knowing the risks and we accept responsibility for avoiding those risks where possible. It’s not reasonable to expect that any country will safeguard us above and beyond the level of care afforded their own citizens. Though as a much travelled westerner some forty years ago I did feel very well cared for not only by ordinary citizens but by authorities in particular. I was, as were all Europeans in those days, very priveleged. Nowadays in our multi-racial society with tourists everywhere and guest workers galore who knows who’s a local, and who’s not, particularly late at night.

    As numerous commentatators have pointed out our crime rate is very much lower than in India. Their nationals are as safe, if not safer, here than at home. No doubt there are some racist thugs out there who are particularly discriminating in their choice of victims. I don’t imagine all this brouhaha will deter them. Sadly the opposite is more likely.

  129. KeIThy

    Personally, I have met some very rude Indians but more than half the Australians I’ve ever met in my life are complete *&%^$-pots! Burning effigies of Kevin Rudd wasn’t going to help them so I fear they will not get much sympathy from the very vocal amongst us even though the ones who did this were obviously not the sharpest instruments that that massive population assumedly had to offer!

  130. GregM

    I’m not aware of any country whose terms and conditions for visitor visas include getting bashed, robbed or killed.

    Helen, the terms and conditions of visitor visas for every country include the possibility of getting bashed, robbed and murdered. A visa gives you the right to enter a country, with all its faults. It does not confer upon you an immunity from those faults.

    In this regard Australia is not, unless you can produce the evidence for it, any worse than any other country.

  131. Helen

    GregM, that was completely not my point.

  132. GregM

    Nonetheless Helen, that was what you said and therefore the point you made.

    In fairness, though, you were responding to Mandi’s post which said:

    I agree that it is every citizen’s duty to make visitors welcome here, but I do not believe that it is every citizen’s duty to pay to look after them.

    That is a view I completely disagree with. We have no duty to make visitors welcome here. We can be completely indifferent to their presence, extending them only common courtesy. I would want that we would do more than that for them, but that is choice, and a good choice, not duty.

    However it is our duty to pay to look after them if that means we pay for them to be afforded the same security that we expect for ourselves.